Saturday, February 18, 2012

Smoked Bell Pepper & Chicken Soup (Recipe)

My colors, my honor. My colors, my all.

Roasted bell peppers are great for a lot of reasons.  Smoked bell peppers are better!

This is a really simple soup with a natural peppery sweetness and an intriguing smoky finish. Once again, the smoke is the key. I've never had anything quite like it, and guests have always enjoyed it for the same reason. At least, that's what they tell me...

I stumbled across this recipe a few years ago, and with a few small mods it's become one of my favorite weekend meals. Preparing it for dinner is a fun way to spend an afternoon -- fun because we get to play with fire, we get to cut stuff up, and it's colorful. Although it takes several hours to prepare, the cook has plenty of downtime that can be used fixing other dishes, throwing football, watching road racing, etc...

  • Two Chicken Breasts, bone-in and skin-on
  • Meathead's Memphis Dust (or your favorite BBQ Rub, but you should really try this one!)
  • 8 Bell Peppers (I've always used 4 red, 2 orange, & 2 yellow)
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 1 Onion
  • A few Thyme & Rosemary sprigs
  • 1 or 2 Bay Leaves
  • 6 cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • Butter

  • Sprinkle chicken breast with BBQ rub.
  • Smoke the chicken & peppers until the chicken is cooked to 160 degrees (about two hours @ about 225 degrees).
  • Let the peppers sweat in a large plastic bag or covered bowl while the chicken cools.
  • Remove the skin & seeds from the peppers, and remove the skin & bone from the chicken. 
  • Roughly chop the celery, onions, peppers, & chicken.
  • Refrigerate the chicken for later use.
  • Sautee onions & celery in a little butter until translucent, as they say.
  • Add chopped peppers and cook for a few more minutes.
  • Simmer Stage I:  Add chicken stock, skin (optional), & herbs. Simmer for about an hour.
  • Simmer Stage II:  Remove bay leaves, herb stems, & chicken skin. Add the cream and simmer for another 30 or 45 minutes.
  • Throw everything in a blender.
  • Add chicken to blended soup and serve.

The chicken has already been rubbed down.

Get the coals going and the wood smoking.

Assemble the smoker, and make sure it's smoking.

Arrange the peppers & chicken on the grate(s). The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker has plenty of room to cook other items at the same time, so we've got three racks of baby back ribs on the bottom grate. That sure is pretty...

[BABY BACK TANGENT:  There are plenty of ways to cook ribs with fire. I'll surely do some rib posts in the future (and you can learn more than you want to know from Meathead @ Amazing Ribs). For today, the classic 225-for-5 method works great. We just remove the membrane from the back of each rack, rub them down good with the Memphis Meat Dust, and cook 'em with everything else -- the smoker will keep going long after our soup ingredients are done, so it would be a shame to waste that fuel, smoke, and grate space (we would use the Weber Kettle if doing soup only). Baby backs don't need a full five hours, so we'll start checking them after about three. When they're almost done, we'll apply some BBQ sauce and crank the smoker wide open or finish them on the grill. It couldn't be simpler, and the timing works great with this soup recipe.]

We're shooting for a steady 225, and that's easier to maintain on some days than others! With the WSM, it's usually pretty easy.

After about two hours the chicken should be cooked and the peppers should be sufficiently smoked. Remember to always check your chicken with a Thermapen to be sure.

BABY BACK BONUS:  the ribs are looking good down there, and smelling great!

Set the chicken aside to cool, and cover the peppers in a big bowl to allow them to sweat. After 15 or 20 minutes it should be easy to peel the skin off and discard the seeds. This can will be a juicy mess, so that same bowl comes in handy.

NOTE:  If you want to cook the soup another day, just refrigerate the chicken & peppers now.

Once the peppers are peeled and seeded, it's time to chop the veggies. Knife skills practice is fun!

Remove the chicken from the bone and chop it up, too. I reserve the skin for use in Simmering Stage I -- it has a great flavor by this point, and I'd hate to waste it.

Sautee the onions & celery before adding the peppers, and cook for just a few minutes more.

Simmering Stage I:  Add the chicken stock, skin, and herbs. Bring to a simmer and keep it going for an hour or so, until reduced by about a third.

You may want to choose a more appropriately-sized pot/pan than I did!

Simmering Stage II:  Remove the herb stalks, bay leaves, and chicken skin. Add the heavy cream and simmer until reduced to your desired consistency, probably about 45 minutes.

Then just throw everything in a blender for a minute or so. You can easily adjust the consistency now by adding chicken stock to thin or simmering longer to thicken.

Add the chopped chicken to the blended soup, and bingo! Ready to serve.

The obligatory motorcycle or Corvette pic that has nothing to do with nothing.
Corvette Z-06 at an undisclosed location.

Rib Coma!

BABY BACK TIME:  Ah, look what else is ready, and just in time! We finished them on the grill and they are a bit overcooked. I happen to like them that way, even if it won't win me any contests...

Enjoy! The soup is great with BBQ, such as seen here. Or it's a fine way to provide a smoky outdoor touch to an otherwise fire-free meal.

  • For friends allergic to Lactose, I once replaced the heavy cream with more chicken stock & some white wine in Simmering Stage II, and thickened it up with 4oz smoked mozzarella. It was just as good.
  • I prefer this one sweet, but you can always add cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes for heat. 
  • Omit the chicken and use vegetable Stock to make it a meat-free dish.
  • Bourbon?



  1. Amen to the red, orange, and yellow peppers! Fantastic meal, makes me want a smoker more and more.

  2. Fair enough, because I'm about to buy some Mason Jars. I gotta try those Peppers soon! I thought you'd like the Corvette pic this time, even though it's the wrong color... :)

  3. Hahaha! I do miss that Corvette, the new ones don't seem to purr like the old ones. The switcheroo- I get a smoker and you get some jars!